Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Henry's birth

New York
March 20th, 2006 - 11.16pm

One of the reasons why it's taken me so long to post Henry's birth story is that I don't remember much of it. It was 20 hours of labor, 2 hours of pushing at the end, followed by a c-section. In the end, I suppose none of it really matters because Henry is perfect. He was never in any distress. In fact, his heart rate never changed...Was the same 150 it was when he lived in my belly. Henry is healthy and happy and, I'm told, came out screaming like a champ.

But, as a mother, there's a certain amount of guilt (isn't there always?). How can I NOT remember my son's delivery? So, for my own sake, I'm piecing it together. I talk about it a lot with my husband, mostly because I think I'm trying to resolve this guilt. Also because I want to know the little details, the moments, that I think--had I been conscious and/or lucid--I would've been sure to commit to memory. I can tell you, with absolute certainty, that it was a long day. Mistah L told me last night that he's glad I don't remember most of the delivery as it was "tough." When I asked "tough for whom? Me or You?" He responded with a hearty "both." So, here's what I've got--a lot of generalities, not much in the time/space continuum, but most of the bases are covered. If I get highly motivated, I'll throw in some pics. And maybe later Mistah L will fill in the blanks.

I started the birth story a while ago, so I'll pick up where I left off. I've cut and paste from my previous, incomplete, post for continuity.

We arrived at the hospital at 8:00 pm to induce Henry. By 9:00 pm, the cervidil was in and we waited. Shortly after midnight the cramps began. By 2:00 am the cramps were contractions, by 3:00 am the contractions were coming regularly between 3 and 5 minutes apart. And the frequency and intensity of these contractions increased throughout the morning.

Both Mistah L and I had felt sad that we never got to have early labor at home. Because I was induced, I never got the chance to wake him up in the middle of the night saying, "Honey, wake up. It's time." There was no middle-of-the night phone call to the in-laws to say "It's time!" Although, for the three weeks leading up to Henry's delivery, every time we called them we had to start each conversation with, "I'm not in labor, but..." So when the cramping started, I was so happy to wake Mistah L up and finally, finally, get to tell him, "Honey? They've started. We're in labor." And being the dork that I am, I took a picture of him right after I woke him up.

I loved early labor. LOVED it. I can't remember a time that I've ever felt so close to my husband. We were bringing our son into the world. Wild! And we were doing it together. He walked with me around the labor & delivery floor, he ran down to the cafeteria to heat up my sock full of rice (sock full o' rice was KEY to my comfort as my labor progressed and my contractions increased in severity/frequency). He sat in the rocking chair, and I on our birthing ball and we held each other, breathing in and out through the contractions. I think we both cried a little. Happy tears. Tears of anxiety. Tears of anticipation. It was go time. It was Henry Time.

We saw the sun rise over the Brooklyn Bridge on the morning of what was to become our son's birthday. Ever since we moved to Brooklyn, Mistah L and I have held a mutual admiration for the bridge. We discussed how it was our favorite bridge, and how bizarre it is to even have a favorite bridge. The sunrise was beautiful and the sky was this gorgeous steely blue turning purple and pink and the clouds were amazing.

Around 7:30 am, the residents came through and checked dilation. Heartbreakingly, dilation had only increased--maybe--a half centimeter. My OB decided to go ahead and administer the pitocin and see what happened. OB said, "well, you've had no change in dilation, but we'll go ahead with the pitocin and see what happens. If there's been no change by 5:00 tonight, we'll send you home."

"SEND ME HOME? Oh no. There'll be no sending me home. No sending me home...Without my son. None. No. None of that. Thank you."

So the pitocin started and within the next hour or so I could definitely feel the intensity and frequency of the contractions increasing. And the pain. Oh, the pain.

The breathing helped and I was so happy to have brought my boom box. Mistah L had worked on a delivery mix for weeks and weeks--all in all we collected about 5 hours of music to guide me through labor. And thank goodness for that, it gave me something to pay attention to.

I've lost track of time at this point and the next thing I can remember is all of my in-laws coming in to the suit. I had expected my m-I-l; I had asked her to be with us as a birthing coach having had 2 children and wicked sense of humor. My f-I-l came with a giant book of Soduko puzzles to keep him occupied as I brought his grandson in to the world. My s-I-l had arrived from Vermont the previous Friday, knowing I was to be induced on Sunday. I knew my grandparents-in-law would come to visit, most likely after Henry was born....But there they were. Grandma and PopPop, they brought the chicken broth, as requested.

I distinctly recall hanging on to the side of the bed for dear life and breathing through a contraction as the whole family piled in to my labor and delivery suite. I'm not so sure that I eked out a proper greeting but thankfully, they'd called ahead and I was prepared to be decent. No coochie hanging out of my gown or anything. Yet. From there, things go hazy and time compresses. [[A lot of what I remember of the event comes to me in bits and pieces and some of it is repetition of what the family has told me. Never in my life would I ever say that 20 hours went by so quickly!]]

Because I had tested GBS positive, the OB wanted to keep my internal exams to a minimum to reduce the introduction of bacteria in to my lady parts. But the next exam showed I had increased to 3 centimeters. I was beginning to be vocal in my contractions--and certainly no longer talk through them. A resident asked me if I wanted something for the pain--I hedged. I wanted to wait until I was at least 5 cms before taking the epidural. She was waiting for me to ask her for the epidural, I was waiting for her to ask me for the epidural. We seemed to be at an impasse. Who would budge?

Meanwhile, as my OB sat at the end of the bed and we discussed my progress I had the most bizarre sensation. Like a pop, only much much bigger. Then wet and warm, like pee, but I couldn't stop it. And I said as much. My OB wondered if my water had broken and I said I sure thought so. Inside, I was elated as I knew I wouldn't be going home without my baby. I would meet Henry that day. Hooray! But the OB and my husband looked and said "nope." They didn't see any fluid. But I insisted. I could feel it. It kept coming. Twice they looked at me as though I were nuts. Then the OB decided to ask me to lift my hips and sure enough: water. And lots of it. I was so proud!

But only 3 lousy cms?! After 12 hours of labor? And let. me. tell. you: I was in pain. P.A.I.N. PAIN. I caved and accepted the narcotic. But I was sure to ask for only half the normal dosage as I don't react well to narcotics, recreational or otherwise. They obliged.

I had been so dead set against taking a narcotic--I didn't want to be dopey when I first met my son, how ever he came into the world. I thought, truly, that I could tough it out for the first 4 or 5 centimeters. I mean, how bad could it be? Well, sooooprise soooprise. Bad. Ouch doesn't cover it.

Immediately, I had that horrible sensation I had the first time I ever got drunk and had to call my friend Matt, my only friend with a car, to come and get me and he shows up with his parents. I sat in the back seat, totally polluted from drinking Schnapps and tequila and thinking "if I'm silent, they'll know I'm drunk" and then spent a half hour blabbering on about something.

Anywhoo, I get the narcotic. Instantly I shut up, because I knew I was slurring and I couldn't focus my eyes. I pass out.

I woke up every 5 minutes or so, for the most intense part of the contraction then would pass out cold. All the while, Mistah L was at my side holding my hand and both my m-I-l and s-I-l were on either side of me. All telling me to breathe. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

I'm told by my family that I cursed a blue streak and my humor was on fire. At one point, I pulled myself up by Mistah L's collar and screamed "This. Breathing. Isn't. Doing. Shit. For. Me." and passed out cold.
I mean really? Breathe? I don't think so. That was some pain.

I know I was screaming my head off and I didn't care. There would be no self-editing now. And modesty was long gone. This shit HURT. I hollered.

A resident came in and said "I heard you in Brooklyn. Is it time for the epidural now?"

"Oh yes. Yes it is" said I.

Help was on the way.

The anesthesiologist arrives and kicks everyone out. There was a little scuffle between he and I. In the end, Mistah L was allowed to stay. And our birthing music mix happens to land, ironically, on "Comfortably Numb" and the anesthesiologist says he's done thousands of epidurals, but never once has he done one to Pink Floyd.
I 6 cms dilated. Then I blew through to 9 cms in no time flat. And we were off to the races.

Then it was time to push...the epidural was kind of freaking me out. I really don't know what I had expected, but I hadn't expected NOT to feel my entire lower half. I felt pins and needles. Actually, I felt like I was floating on a raft in a pool. Only the raft was my legs. I could feel my legs with my hands, but I couldn't feel my hands with my legs. And I was starting to break through my narcotic haze. It was the most bizarre feeling. The only way I could describe it to my s-I-l, when she asked what it was like, was that it was like the highest I'd ever been. Everything seemed so quiet around me, and I was so focused. I could only pay attention to one thing at a time--everything else just fell away. I could only focus on one voice at a time, only do one thing at a time. It felt like my brain was cold and things were just slowing down. Go time.

The pitocin was kicked up a notch--and as my pushing continued, the pitocin would continue to be pushed up. And up. My OB sat at the edge of the bed and she coached me through pushing. I couldn't feel anything, and it sure didn't feel like what I had expected. I had expected to be able to feel pressure, but I couldn't feel a thing. It was weird because I couldn't independently move my legs, so when it was time to push, I couldn't use my feet and legs as leverage. My husband stayed my head while my m-I-l and s-I-l each took a leg and I pushedpushedpushed for 2 hours. It seemed like I was making progress--I could see Henry's head. I remember the OB saying "Oooh, he's got strawberry blonde hair!" And I was so excited because in my dream, Henry had red curly hair. But not red red, strawberry blonde.

But then the progress stopped. Henry wasn't budging. Despite the pitocin being turned up to eleven, so to speak, my body just kind of got used to the contractions and they slowed down.

I was exhausted. EXHAUSTED. I'd been awake for 36 hours or so and my body'd been through the wringer. I knew what was coming, but I didn't want to be told. So I said it. I said it first.

"This baby isn't coming out on his own, is it?"

My OB looked truly disappointed and sad to say "No. No he's not."

I can't say I was surprised--rationally, we knew it was possible given my husband's size when he was born. And given the fact that this was an induced delivery and odds of a c-section increase. So I felt fully prepared for the possibility. But...

The epidural was turned off. The pitocin was turned off. I was being prepped for surgery.

And then it came: the intense wave of disappointment. I had tried so hard to be brave the whole day. In the face of my husband and his whole family...I wanted to be brave and I wanted so much for everyone to be proud of me. The wave just came and took over and I cried. I bawled.

The nurses hurried around me and prepped me for the OR. Mistah L got his little suit so he could come in with me. The suit was way too small for him and there was a fair amount of hilarity surrounding that. Which was nice, a little comedic relief to take the pressure off of me.

The OR was ready for me, everyone was in place...Henry, here we come!

My epidural had been turned down/off because I couldn't feel anything to help when pushing, and I was beginning to get the feeling back in my lower half.

And just as I was about to be wheeled in to the OR, the OB came to say that there had been an emergency next door--another baby had gone in to distress. I was bumped from the list... which was fine by me, I wasn't in any pain at that point. Since the pitocin had been turned off, I wasn't having contractions. They said it would be about another 45 minutes until it was my turn. And honestly? What's another 45 minutes when it's already been 20 HOURS...

And then they came. The contractions came on like a motherf*cker. With no epidural. Or amniotic fluid to cushion the blow. The back labor was so intense. It started with a small back ache--I figured it was just from lying in bed all day or that I had pulled a muscle pushing. All completely understandable and reasonable explanations for the pain that was intensifying and radiating.

Then I was just in hell.

I was screaming with each contractions, which were coming very fast and very furious. The pain was the worst pain I'd ever felt. As my friend Erin once said, I don't even know why they bother calling it pain because it's just so far beyond any pain you've ever had.

I was screaming at the top of my lungs, and crying, and not breathing very well. The nurses had scattered. There was only one anesthesiologist on duty, and he was in the OR with the emergency c-section lady. And my nurse, the mean one, kept telling me that. "It was an emergency, she needed to go first." I yelled at this nurse, and Mistah L kicked her out of the room. I understood it was an emergency, and that's fine. But good god damn, that doesn't do me any freakin' good and it doesn't help my PAIN SITUATION DOES IT?

This was the only time I saw anyone in my family break. I looked over and saw both my m-I-l and s-I-l silently crying. And Mistah L had his head down. This couldn't have been easy for any of them to see, me in that kind of pain. All day they had been so strong for me, supporting me and coaching me and we were so close to the end. But the agony was unbearable.

Finally, FINALLY, the anesthesiologist came running in the room and the blessed epidural was, again, turned up to eleven.

What was supposed to be 45 minutes had turned out to be more than 2 hours of intense back labor, entirely drug-free. Feh.

When the OB came back in the room to tell us that the other lady had been delivered and we were next, I looked at the clock, it was 11:00pm. I looked at the doc and said, "this baby WILL be delivered before midnight." I wanted so much for him to be born on the first day of spring.

And then I was wheeled down the hall and I don't remember much after that at all. I puked in the OR for about 5 minutes, must've been from the morphine on an empty stomach.

I felt a lot of pressure and pulling and tugging and I heard a baby wailing far off. It was my baby. My Henry.

Henry was finally here.

View the story at The house of H for more pictures, and to read what Henry has been doing since!

1 comment:

Hayley said...

For someone who can't remember all the labour, that was a pretty damn good story!

After everything you went through, i can only imagine the joy of having little Henry in your arms!

Congratulations :)